« PreviousContinue »
It is thus that justification stands connected, in the scriptures, with union with Christ : Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us
righteousness. There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. That I may be found IN him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which iš of God by faith. From these and other passages, we perceive, that faith justifies, not in a way of merit, not on account of any thing in itself, be it what it may, but as uniting us to Christ. It is that which the act of marriage is on the part of a female : by it, she becomes one with her husband, and, (whatever might be her former poverty,) legally interested in all that he possesses. Having him, she has all that is his. Thus it is tbat, Christ being heir of all things, believers io bim become heirs of God, not in their own right, but as joint-heirs with him. And as, in a marriage union, the wealth which an indigent female might derive from the opulence of her husband would not be in reioard of her having received him, so neither is justification the reward of faith, but of the righteousness which is of God by faith.
Great things are ascribed to faith, in a way of healing. Many of the miraculous cures performed by our Lord are ascribed to the faith of the parties. The virtue, however, proceeded not from faith, but from him. It is the same in justification. By faith we receive the benefit ; but the benefit arises pot from faith, but from Christ. Hence, the same thing which is ascribed, in some places, to faith, is, in others, ascribed to the obedience, death, and resurrection of Christ.
3. We inquire; Whether justification includes the pardon of our sins, past, present, and to come? That it includes the pardon of sin has been proved already from Rom. iv. 6,7; and, seeing it is promised, of him that believeth, that'he shall not come into condemnation, it must, in some way, secure the pardon of all bis sins, and the possession of eternal life. Yet, to speak of sins as being pardoned before they are repented of, or even committed, is not only to maintain that on which the scriptures are silent, but to contradict the current language of their testimony. If all our sins, past, present, and to come, were actually forgiven, either when
Christ laid down his life, or even on our first believing, why did David speak of confessing his transgression, and of God forgiving his iniquity? Why did Solomon teach us, tbat He that confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy? Why did our Lord direct us, in our daily prayers, to say, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors : and why add, If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses? Finally, why did the apostle John teach us, that, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Nor is it sufficient to understand this language of the manifestation of forgiveness to the mind. Forgiveness is not opposed to merely withholding the comforts of religion, but to laying our sins to our charge. The parable of the servant who took his fellow. servant hy the throat, and was delivered by his lord to the tormentors, is thus applied by our Lord. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. This, undoubtedly, means more than withholding a sense of forgiveness in the present life. Nor is there any thing in all this inconsistent with the certain perseverance of true believers, or with the promise that they shall not come into condemnation. The truth taught us in this promise is not, ihat, if, after believing in Christ, we live in sin, and die without repentance, we shall, nevertheless escape condemnation ; but, that provision is made, on behalf of believers, that they shall not live in sin : and, when they sin, that they shall not die without repentance, but return to God, and so obtain forgiveness. The promise of non-condemnation includes that of repentance and perseverance: I will put my law in their hearts, and they shall not depart from me.
We may think, that, if the Lord has appointed us to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ, whatever be our conduct, he will never threaten us with any thing beyond a severe chastisement : but Christ did not act in this manner towards his disciples. He not only gave the unforgiving to expect no forgiveness at the hand of God, but enforced the giving up of that which caused them to offend, thongh it were as dear as a right hand or a right eye, on pain
of being cast into hell-fire! He allowed no one, while in an evil course, to take it for granted, that he was, nevertheless, a good man ; but pointed him to the end whither that course, if persisted in, would lead him. Warnings are as necessary, in some circumstances, as encouragements are in others : and their being enforced on pain of eternal destruction, may be the appointed means of saving us from it.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
ROMANS iii. 24.
Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
HAVING shown what I conceive to be meant by justification, I proceed to the next bead of discourse ; namely,
II. TO OFFER EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF THE VOCTRINE : OR, TO PROVE, THAT WE ARE NOT JUSTIFIED BY ANY WORKS OF OUR OWN, BUT OF FREE GRACE, THROUGH THE REDEMPTION OF JESUS CHRIST. There are but two ways in which creatures can be justified before God : one is by works, the other by grace. If we had been obedient to the holy, just, and good law of our Creator, that obedience would have been our righteousness, and we should have been justified on the ground of it: for the man that doeth those things shall live by them. But, having all sinned, we have come short of the glory of God. Instead of gaining his favour, we stand exposed to his righteous curse; for thus it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.
We need not, on this subject, inquire into the degrees of evil or whether we have gone greater lengths in sin than other men ; Vol. VII.